Courage the Cowardly Dog was one of the most bizarre Cartoon Network originals to appear on the channel, and the best episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog prove that. Created by animator John R. Dilworth back in 1999, Courage the Cowardly Dog became something of a phenomenon following its four-season run on Cartoon Network. With its mix of absurdist comedy and unsettling horror, the show cemented itself as a landmark in children’s animation, appealing to both kids and adults alike – and providing some serious nightmare fuel along the way.

The show is so well done, in fact, that its short – titled “The Chicken from Outer Space” – was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short. Over the years, the animated series has become something of a cult classic thanks to its surrealist visuals and odd, but haunting, monsters. Focusing on a dog named Courage, the show follows him and his owners Eustace and Murial as they face off against supernatural forces. The series is critically acclaimed in its own right, being nominated for a few Golden Reel awards and even winning an Annie Award.



10 “The Demon In The Mattress/Freaky Fred” — Season 1, Episode 4

The mattress demon in Courage the Cowardly Dog

Taking great inspiration from the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist, “The Demon in the Mattress” follows Muriel as she’s possessed by her new mattress, which just so happens to house a demonic entity — and it’s one of the best episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog. The scenes of Muriel’s possession are among the creepiest the show has to offer, and its loving homage to William Friedkin’s classic movie has since made it one of the most beloved episodes of the show among horror aficionados.

Making a great double bill with the previous episode, “Freaky Fred” sees Muriel’s disturbing nephew come to stay with the family, as his uncontrollable urge to shave everything in sight begins to bubble to the surface. As it turns out, Fred is an escapee from a psychiatric ward, and Courage is forced to fight off his advances while he waits for the authorities to arrive.

9 “Remembrance Of Courage Past/Perfect” – Season 4, Episode 13

Courage's parents in Courage the Cowardly Dog

In “Remembrance of Courage Past,” the audience learns that Courage’s birth parents were launched into space by a nefarious veterinarian, which is likely what kickstarted his intense anxiety, to begin with. Concerned by his recent behavior, Eustace and Muriel take Courage to see the very same vet, leaving him at the mercy of the megalomaniacal villain. Not all of Courage’s freakiest characters were supernatural, and this episode acts as a hallmark for one of the most famous non-entity villains.

The show’s final episode, appropriately titled “Perfect”, serves as a great distillation of what’s so great about Courage the Cowardly Dog, and is one of the best episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog. The story sees the physical embodiment of Courage’s fear and doubt manifest as a ‘teacher,’ hoping to cure the dog of his neuroticism. By the end of the episode, however, Courage learns that he’s perfect just the way he is.

8 “Queen Of The Black Puddle/Everyone Wants To Direct” – Season 1, Episode 9

Queen of the Black Puddle in Courage the Cowardly Dog

Contrasting the show’s previous episode, “Queen of the Black Puddle” sees an attractive demon steal Eustace away from Muriel, much to her dismay, and is one of the best episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog. While Courage is eventually able to save the day, the Queen appears in several other episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog, becoming one of its multiple recurring villains, proving the installment’s longevity and the villain’s legacy.

“Everyone Wants to Direct” is a notably darker story, however, following a zombified director who plans on resurrecting his deceased partner – who resides under the Bagges’ farmhouse – and devouring the entire family. It’s certainly one of those episodes that toes the line between the program being for adults vs children, which is partially what makes the series so great.

7 “The Hunchback Of Nowhere/The Gods Must Be Goosey” – Season 1, Episode 8

the goose god playing the guitar in Courage the Cowardly Dog

Whereas most Courage the Cowardly Dog episodes feature some kind of supernatural antagonistic force as a source of anxiety for the easily-scared Courage, “The Hunchback of Nowhere” turns things on its head by having his own cruel owner Eustace becomes the episode’s sole villain – bullying his dog after he befriends a nomadic, deformed hunchback. It’s one of the best episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog, and one of the few instances where Eustace’s inherent villainy is actually called out.

In the episode’s second story, “The Gods Must Be Goosey”, a lovestruck goose god takes a liking to Muriel, plotting to steal her away from Eustace – a plan that Courage is forced to put a stop to. Muriel is often overlooked in the show, despite being endearingly sweet and good-natured. Therefore, it’s only right that one of the best episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog should focus on her.

6 “The Mask” – Season 4, Episode 7

The Mask villain in Courage the Cowardly Dog

Featuring one of the show’s most spine-chilling monsters, “The Mask” is one of only two double-length episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog. One of the best episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dogs sees Courage attacked by a terrifying, pale creature adorned with a creepy porcelain mask – prompting him to investigate the reason behind the being’s anger.

As it turns out, one of the creature’s friends has been abducted by the evil Mad Dog, and Courage is eventually able to save her – putting an end to the masked being’s hatred of dogs. The episode resulted in one of the show’s most iconic and terrifying villains, giving chills to children and adults alike.

King Ramses Courage the Cowardly Dog

Widely considered one of the creepiest episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog among fans, “King Ramses’ Curse” opens with Courage stumbling across an ancient stone tablet, which he takes back to the farmhouse. Finding out its incredible worth, Eustace refuses to return it, incurring the wrath of an ancient pharaoh who sends three nasty plagues the family’s way. It’s one of the best episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog, thanks to its bizarre animation style and an even weirder song.

Meanwhile, “The Clutching Foot” pits Courage against a mob of fungal gangsters, who begin to take over the family’s body parts one by one – starting with Eustace’s foot – forcing Courage to undertake their dirty work to spare them. After “King Ramses’ Curse,” it was a good choice on the showrunners’ part to have a lighter follow-up, making one of the most balanced episodes of the entire show.

4 “Last Of The Starmakers/Son Of The Chicken From Outer Space” – Season 4, Episode 10

the son of the chicken from Outer Space in Courage the Cowardly Dog

Another space-centric story, “Last of the Starmakers” introduces Courage to a powerful, extraterrestrial Starmaker, who must retrieve her eggs after crash-landing on the Bagge family’s farm – serving as one of the show’s weirdest ever concepts. However, weirdness is the TV show’s greatest strength, and it’s one of the best episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog because of that.

A follow-up to Courage the Cowardly Dog’s Oscar-nominated short film “The Chicken from Outer Space,” “Son of the Chicken from Outer Space” sees the offspring of the short’s titular villain return to Earth to terrorize Courage and his family. The follow-up may be just as good as the original, seeing the story of the evil chicken come to a satisfying ending.

3 “The Tower Of Dr. Zalost” – Season 2, Episode 13

Dr Zalost, Muriel and Courage

While it’s not one of Courage the Cowardly Dog’s creepiest stories, the double-length second season episode “The Tower of Dr. Zalost” has become a firm favorite amongst viewers regardless, due to its focus on the more mature topic of depression, and it’s one of the best episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog. The episode tells the story of the lonely Dr. Zalost, who fires cannonballs across the town of Nowhere that cause widespread depression.

Fortunately, Muriel’s ‘happy plums’ are eventually able to counteract the effect of Zalost’s cannonballs – and even cure the depression of Zalost himself. The episode is critically acclaimed thanks to its themes and storyline. It was nominated for a Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing in 2003 but unfortunately didn’t win.

2 “The Curse Of Shirley/Courage In The Big Stinkin’ City” – Season 2, Episode 2

Courage the Cowardly Dog title card for The Curse of Shirley

With Eustace’s cruel attitude being one of the core elements of Courage the Cowardly Dog, his actions finally come back to haunt him in “The Curse of Shirley,” in which the titular psychic chihuahua places a hex on him after he gleefully destroys the gifts given to her by Muriel and Courage.

“Courage in the Big Stinkin’ City” however, sees the family take a trip to New York when Muriel is chosen to play the sitar at Radio City Music Hall, and it’s one of the best episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog. Naturally, things go south when a giant cockroach forces Courage to retrieve an ‘evil package’, with Muriel’s life hanging in the balance. The installment ended up winning a Golden Reel Award in 2001 for Best Sound Editing.

1 “A Night At The Katz Motel/Cajun Granny Stew” — Season 1, Episode 1

Courage the Cowardly Dog Katz Motel

It’s incredibly rare that a pilot is one of a series’ best installments, but “A Night at the Katz Motel/Cajun Granny Stew” perfectly encapsulates the entire series and is one of the best episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog. The first half of the episode sees one of the show’s most infamous antagonists, Katz, running a motel that Eustace and Muriel check into, but things soon go bump in the night as he unleashes spiders on the family.

“Cajun Granny Stew” sees a fox trying to win a stew competition, and the only ingredient he’s missing is the Granny. Courage must save Muriel from the evil fox before she’s added into the mix. This installment is what started it all, and it was a bombastic entrance into Cartoon Network’s original lineup. The episode subsequently ended up winning an Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Television Production.

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